By Mario Annicchiarico
Lead Dave Harper returned to Regina late Monday night, missing out on the evening game at the Brandt Centre, but he was back in position for a 12-6 win over Newfoundland/Labrador’s Greg Smith in the afternoon on Tuesday.
Harper ventured back to B.C. on Saturday as his wife, Jessica, was experiencing labour pains. Baby No. 2 decided it wasn’t quite ready to enter the world and Harper was encouraged to head back to the Canadian men’s curling championship.
“Just not quite there yet, everything seems to be good. My wife said, ‘Go, you need to go back and play a game and live out your dream,’ ” Harper said after the team’s first win. “Honestly I thought I was heading home, but the curling gods were with me and I got to came out to live my dream here.”
His flight back was re-routed to Saskatoon on Monday due to brutal snow conditions Regina is experiencing.
Harper – who left after four ends on Saturday – re-joined skip Geall, third Jeff Richard and second Andrew Nerpin, replacing fifth man Brad Wood, who has filled in throughout the competition.
Richard’s wife, Brooklyn Leitch, was also due this past Sunday, but their first child has held off for dad, who is back to his first Brier since 2010.
“We’ve got such good family support at home that once we get on the ice, we’re able to focus well. We know our wives are in good hands. My mom and Brooklyn’s mom, and Dave’s mom and his wife’s mom are all there. They’ve had more babies than we have,” Richard said with a chuckle. “We’ve got a really good support group.”
So Richard was glad to have Harper back in the fold as the team improved to 1-4 to remain in contention, with a slim hope to carry on to the championships round. They needed wins over the Northwest Territories and Nova Scotia on Wednesday to stay alive.
“He’s a vital part of the team. It’s amazing what one player brings to the team,” Richard said of Harper. “He’s our motivator and our rah-rah guy. He probably has one of the most positive attitudes in a curler that I’ve ever played with, so it’s nice to have him back.
“It’s nice to get the monkey off the back and hopefully we can get a couple more,” Richard said of the win. “If we can win our last two we’re in some sort of a tiebreaker.”
B.C. took the first step to a playoff spot Wednesday morning defeating the Northwest Territories 7-3. The Geall rink will take on Nova Scotia (3-3) for the Wednesday night for the final berth in pool B.
“Playing in the Brier is something you dream of,” Richard said of just having the chance to play at nationals. “To be able to come back and play it again is absolutely awesome.
“We just have to have a good day (Wednesday) and we’ll see what happens.”
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